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Risk Is Our Business

SM Hillman is a speculative fiction writer, game designer, and cynical observer of the human animal. Your mileage will vary.

Kirk has a few good speeches throughout his run on Star Trek, but this might be his best? Also one of the hammiest to be sure. It has stuck with me through the years as a touchstone for the various scary things I have done in my life.

As a writer, we do a ton of scary things. The scariest for me is not submitting a story, but sending it to my friends and peers to read. The never ending imposter syndrome has likely held me back more than I will ever know, but I am doing better at taking those risks. It has helped that my friends and peers have shared their stories with me and some have read a few of mine. I need to do a better job at being vulnerable to my fellow writers.

But let me tell you about someone who is, I am not sure if new to writing is accurate but new to the whole process of being an active writer. We will call him Rob, because that is his name. I am flat out amazed at how fearless Rob has been in the last couple months. Showing his writing to myself and others. Sending out stories, accepting the rejections with more than grace. And his writing is very good. The editors who rejected it will one day wish they had not. And when I think about Rob's journey, I cannot help but to come back to Kirk and his excellent life advice and think "yeah, this is it exactly. This is art." No, we are not risking our lives (most of the time, sometimes we are), but we do risk our souls. Each work is a piece of us revealed to the rest of the world. And it stinks when someone takes a piss on your soul.

A couple years ago I sent in some words at a con for one of those first X number of words panels. Mine got pissed on hard, harder than I think it should and what was worse, they had a good laugh. People laughed at my writing. Professional writers and editors laughed at my writing. You have to be armored to do this. You have to be. And no matter how well armored, someone will find a soft spot to wound you.

Excalibur. Watch it.
It is the old wound, my King.

I realize it still hurts to think about that one, but it made me better in a lot of ways. I am not holding grudges. But I am someone who remembers everything and am trying to turn this memory into a positive.

Today I told someone else that Risk is our Business. It is, it is an important aspect of the art. And sometimes its a bruise, sometimes a paper cut, and sometimes a sucking chest wound. But I am convinced it is worth it. No regrets. Which brings me to another favorite entertainment quote.

Regret is Unprofessional.



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